The number of homicides in San Jose over the last six months has already surpassed the total for all of 2010, which is why the police department is accepting federal assistance to combat gang violence.
The SJPD will be adding two agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to specifically focus on gangs, which police say are responsible for 14 of the city’s 27 homicides so far this year. There were 20 homicides in San Jose in 2010.
In a meeting with San Jose Inside last week, Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen said there have been discussions between himself, Police Chief Chris Moore and Mayor Chuck Reed about what the city can do to reduce the murder rate. One possibility Rosen suggested was implementing injunctions in certain neighborhoods that are infested with gangs.
Rosen added that the last time the city imposed injunctions—which are designed to restrain violent activity and can include forbidding certain colors from being worn outdoors as well as dispersing loitering groups—was roughly two decades ago. Oakland is currently funding injunctions in response to gang violence.
Reports say the two officers coming over from ICE have focused their efforts on removing gang members who are in this country illegally. Rosen’s office supports deportation of violent criminals, but since he took over the DAs office in January, prosecutors have been told to consider “collateral consequences” when negotiating a guilty plea for lower-level offenders.
While the office under previous DA Dolores Carr did not take such matters under consideration, Rosen says, the county now offers illegal immigrants options that could allow them to stay inside the country or prevent a family from being broken up, as long as the person is not considered a threat to public safety.
“We want the sentence to weigh the same, even if they’re constructed a little differently,” Rosen says, adding that the focus will be on “consistency and individual fairness.”
He added that prosecutors offer similarly structured plea agreements to U.S. citizens, not just illegal immigrants.